Design and photography project made in collaboration with photographer Liz Hingley, and members of the UK's Zimbabwean community who experienced the asylum detention system.
Fed up with only seeing people in detention represented as helpless victims, we set out to create a work that deals with the injustices of the UK's border detention system whilst placing the humanity of our collaborators front and centre. It is one thing to know about the effects of a deliberate and xenophobic policy, but it is all the more powerful when you can see the humour, warmth and integrity of those who have experienced it.
A discussion about brand awareness revealed that the top UK names people were aware of were Serco, Capita and G4S. Like an entrepreneurial market stall trader, we named our magazine SERCO in an attempt at some reflected name recognition. We worked with Rukai, the womens' knitting group, to organise glossy fashion shoots and branding for designs they now sell at Smithfield Market in London. We photographed market stall wares, commissioned Tripadvisor-style reviews of the UK's detention centres, and a 'How To Spend It' guide to living on £35 per week, as UK asylum seekers (who are also not allowed to work) must do.
The finished work was exhibited at Oxford House (London, UK), and then distributed as an edition of 500 litho printed glossy magazines. We were honoured to learn that the work inspired the launch of Unlocking Detention, a campaign against the detention system, which has now been running for several years.